Sunday, May 19, 2013

26.2 Windermere Marathon

It's a cool 51 degrees, overcast with a breeze.  The heavy clouds are taunting us with a chance of rain.  Easily, three quarters of the runners are standing with me in a port-a-potty line calculating in our heads if we will make it through the line before the race starts.
I make it through with three minutes to spare. Perfect.  And we're off.  Down the road we go.
Stand up straight and breathe.
Keep a slow pace that you can maintain...forever.
Enjoy the experience. 
Smile and thank volunteers you pass them.
The first two miles come and go and then I see my ROCK:  Cathy.  She is there snapping photos and video like the paparazzi.  She briefly runs with me, fueling me with encouragement, and then doubles back to her car.  Mile 3 I spot her again and ask "Do you have Kleenex in your car?" To which she replies, "Yes, but you really need to learn how to do a farmer blow."  
Gross.  Not when Kleenex is an option.
Between miles 3 and 4.
The course loops back down to the park road. I smile and think of my dogs Rhonda and Pepper (both now watching me from heaven) who used to run this "road" with me when it was an alfalfa field in our back yard, literally. I used to live there in an old farm house on 300 acres. Now, the house is gone and the alfalfa field has been transformed into housing developments and this park.   

Between miles 6 and 7.
Seven and a half miles, and two more Cathy sightings later, I leave Liberty Lake and enter the beautiful, but isolated, Centennial trail.  I plug myself into my iPod, turn it on, and crank up the tunes.
 It's just you and me now Pitbull. "Let's get this party started!"
I keep a solid pace for the first 15 miles.  I'm surprised with a few more Cathy sightings at some of the trail heads and then she leaves to go cheer on my son at his soccer game that I’m missing.
Mother of the Year eludes me again.
I hit my first wall at mile 16.  It’s more mental than physical.
I’ve been running for three and a half hours and I still have ten more miles to go including the part of the race I’m dreading: miles 20-24.
Shut up. 
You chose to do this. 
Pick a better song on your IPod.
Mile 18 and I cross Argonne Road.  I walk through the water station taking physical inventory of my body aches.  I’m getting tired, but my body isn’t swearing at me yet.
I’ve run 18 miles and I’m just now leaving the f^@%ing Valley?
I drive this to work every day and it takes me FOREVER in the car.  Now I’m running it!?
"It's worth the wait even so far away...All alone, just the beat inside my soul.  Take me home where my dreams are made of gold.  In the zone, where the beat is uncontrolled. I know what it feels like.  Come on make me feel alive."  (Krewella)

"One foot in front of the other...just keep moving forward."

I hit my second wall at mile 21.  My body is tired.  My hips and lower back hurt.
"...just because it burns doesn't mean you’re going to die..." (Pink)
Just keep moving forward.
Stand up straight and breathe.
It’s okay to walk the hills as long as you run everything else.
I slow down to a walk-jog pattern.  I pass mile 23 and see something that completely energizes me:  Cathy bringing my son to see me run.  DD is in his soccer gear and holding a ribbon he earned, beaming from ear to ear.  I run up and hug him.  Everything stops:  my head talk, my body aches, and my worries about time.   We snap photos, talk about the seven goals he scored in soccer, and then I move on feeling strong because I know he will be waiting for me at the finish line.  They drive past honking, waving, and cheering out the car windows.  Awesome!

With DD in mile 23.

You got this.
Only a little 5K left to go.
The faster you move the sooner you can see him again.
I thank the Police Officers directing traffic for me as cross the road to mile 24.  I know one and we recognize each other.  He gives me a high five and shouts out encouragement as I pass.  I round the next corner and thank the volunteers for being there.
Wow, they were a really excited bunch.
Was that MY name on the sign she was holding?
I look back and recognize one of my awesome high school students holding a sign for me.  I run back, and give her a big hug. (Sorry, I realize now that I was nasty sweaty and that was gross.) 
She has no idea just how much that means to me.
I can’t believe she did that for me!

That is so awesome.

I’m almost home and have run this part of the trail many times.  I know it like the back of my hand.  I’m feeling confident and excited.  I select songs on my IPod that will help me finish strong.  I pass mile 25.
"...This is the moment. Tonight is the night. We'll fight till it's over, so we put our hands up..." (Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis)
I round my last turn and see the finish line.
"...I just want to feel this moment" (Pitbull & Christina)
I see DD and Cathy.  They are waiting for me at the beginning of the finisher chute. The announcer is calling me in by name and then I stop.  I’m ten yards away from crossing the finish line. Out of instinct I run to my son and hug him. He'd always wanted to see me finish a race and now he will.  I grabbed his hand.
 “Run with me.”  
“I can’t go in there.” (My good rule follower.)
“It’s okay.  You can come with me and I’ll hold your hand.”
Then we ran together, holding hands, across the finish line.

Crossing the finish line!

Our finish time?
Perfect.  I wouldn’t change a thing.
Sometimes being one of the last ones pays off in so many other ways.
Right after we finished the race together. 
He is holding the ribbon he earned at his soccer tournament.
My finisher photo!

My rose and bling.